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Sundiver (The Uplift Saga #1)

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  14,612 ratings  ·  423 reviews
No species has ever reached for the stars without the guidance of a patron--except perhaps mankind. Did some mysterious race begin the uplift of humanity aeons ago? Circling the sun, under the caverns of Mercury, Expedition Sundiver prepares for the most momentous voyage in history--a journey into the boiling inferno of the sun.
Paperback, 340 pages
Published July 21st 2010 by Bantam Spectra (first published 1980)
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Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonRevelation Space by Alastair ReynoldsLeviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Excellent Space Opera
19th out of 312 books — 1,823 voters
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Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
Apr 14, 2012 Robert rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
This is science fiction from 1980 and is therefore not obsessed with:
1) Computers.
2) Nanotech.
3) Wormholes.

This makes it rather refreshing. Instead this book uses an old theme, prevalent in post-WWII American SF: Humans (read the USA) are superior to everybody else. In this example, humans are technologically outclassed by every other space-faring species in the galaxy but are superior because their intelligence evolved naturally instead of being the result of genetic manipulation by an older sp
Jan 21, 2010 Mark rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy space opera sci-fi
Recommended to Mark by: Hugo Award nominee
I really disliked this book. This may have been due in part that I listened to the audible edition and I'm not a fan of George Wilson as a narrator.

The protagonist in this book, Jacob, is tedious and unbelievable. The author builds him up as a world-weary, zen, super scientist, martial-artist with a Mr. Hyde-like split personality that he needs keep in check.

Al the other characters in this book are diminutive to Jacob.

The women in the novel are little better than 2-dimensional window dressing.
4 Stars

My first David Brin novel. I enjoyed this high concept science fiction novel. It is a fun adventure to the depths of our sun itself. Aliens, monsters, and ghosts fill the action scenes. All the while this is a novel filled with politics and racism.

I liked the unfolding of the mysteries of this book, it could have been a gem. The ending plays out in an almost anticlimactic way. It was a let down.

I will read more from him.
Mogsy (MMOGC)
This was a recommendation from my husband, who read these books (The Uplift Saga) when he was younger and loved them. For a science fiction novel that was written and published before I was born, I have to say it has aged very well; this could have been written today. The technology and the science described is excellent, which was why my husband figured I would like this in the first place.

It was also an unexpected pleasure to discover as I was reading that Sundiver turned out to be a pretty de
Will Caskey
The Uplift books are tied for my favorite sci-fi series with Asimov's original Foundation series. This is sci-fi at its very best. Brin goes through an astonishing number of fascinating ideas and concepts, but leaves them for the reader to peruse or discard. Want racial allegory? Sure. Prefer religion? Plenty of it. Political intrigue? It's there by the truckload.

When Brin goes into pretend-science he goes all in. One can almost sense his smirk going through this first book: that's right, this b
Mr. von Däniken must be very proud that his beliefs became the other evolutionary theory in this saga: Dänikenism versus Darwinism. You can almost glimpse the birth of Ancient Aliens ;)) Series I very much liked (well, some of the episodes, at least), which, unfortunately, I cannot say about this first part of the Uplift Saga.

The main character, Jacob Darwa, is a sort of Hercule Poirot in a galactic interracial plot. A team composed of humans and a few more races of aliens starts an expedition t
Most recent SF I read is actually a bit dated, David Brin's "Sundiver". I picked it up because it got a lot of favorable mention in "Eclipse Phase" (a transhuman SF roleplaying game I play tested). It's setting has humanity uplifting some other earth species (chimps, dolphins, etc...) to human sentience... and then humanity encountering aliens which derive their intergalactic status on whether a species has uplifted other species (has "client" species). It has a big debate among humans whether t ...more
I've already bought all six books in this series, so I'm going to read them all. This first one, though, didn't thrill me much for a number of reasons. For one thing, it featured a superhero type protagonist and another superhero type for a love interest. I seem to prefer books in which it's ordinary people who do the things that turn out to be extraordinary, just by doing what they feel. It's also a mystery with a lot of plot twists, and those are not my favorite type of book.

The technology was
I got rid of all my David Brin novels because he was, I felt at the time, racist against aliens.
Bear with me here.
Aliens are always the villains in the Uplift novels. And the thing is, they're Big Bads, they're Snidely Whiplashes: evil maniacs out to destroy humanity. If it weren't for the cartoonishness of their villainy, I think the Uplift books would be classics. Merely having a couple of "good ones" doesn't suffice. Besides, this does a disservice to the human characters, who by default are
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 18, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Science Fiction Fans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This is the first book in the The Uplift War series. It took me a while to get into this book. The characters, particularly the protagonist and main point of view character, Jacob Demwa, are likeable. I liked his love interest, Helene De Silva, too. But I can't say Brin's characters strike me as complex or memorable. The style is readable, but hardly smooth. Brin is notably far too fond of the exclamation point among other clunkers.

Two things rather won me over though and made this novel stick
Jul 11, 2007 Dan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: die hard science fiction fans
This book is about a galactic civilization where only ones species has ever traveled to the stars without being "uplifted," or genetically engineered by another more advanced species. The one that wasn't uplifted were the progenitors, the first race to make it to the stars. The galaxy has an interesting political make up, as each race is valued on who uplifted them and how many races they have uplifted. And then there are the humans, who seem to have reached the stars without being uplifted. And ...more
Kat Robinson
Removing stars because of shitty female characters... I've seen plain paper with better characterization than this

People will be like "OH SILLY ANGRY FEMINIST" and whatever. I like books I can relate to. And part of that is realistic female characters.

Not to say I can't relate to male characters, 90% of the books I own have male characters. It's just nice to read about women every now and then. I can imagine men would not be able to stop whining if all of a sudden every single male fantasy/sci
Really fantastic, sci-fi that makes you think. I liked the aliens and the general mystery plot, but it was the other world-building details that stood out for me:

- the technology behind the sun ships;
- the anachronistic idioms used by one character who, due to relativistic time differences involved in her line of work, is from a much older time period;
- the psychological/physical tests used to objectively decide that a certain proportion of humanity is too psychopathic/sociopathic to interact wi
Martin L. Cahn
This is one of those books I suspect I should hold off reviewing in order to do so in context of its sequels. Despite that, there are two things I would like to go ahead and note.

1) Despite being set in the future, I will agree with some others that there is something "dated" about the book. Perhaps it's just the rather simplistic drawing of the Sundiver's layout that just looks so 1970s to me (the book was published in 1980). However, there's also an anti-establishment feel to the story that I
Mitch Harden
This book was great! I came to Brin via an essay he wrote about why Star Trek was better than Star Wars. In it, he reminded me of why I like sci-fi and explained why so much sci-fi isn't worth reading. You can check that out here:

From there I checked out his website and blog and read his short story "Lungfish." It blew my mind. Loved it! It was exactly the Sci-Fi I wanted and so his Uplift saga jumped to the top of my reading list.

Sundiver was brilliant!
Aug 10, 2010 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
I'm always trepidatious when I return to a book I loved as a child. My friend Jon Orwant once confessed that he had avoided rereading "Godel, Escher, Bach" in case it wasn't as good through 2000s eyes as it was through 1980s eyes. For me, I remember curling up in bed and devouring Brin's Uplift Saga as a teen, and coming away with my mind blown. So you can imagine the hesitation I felt when I opened "Sundiver" on the iPad and started the first sentence.

Fortunately, it has barely suffered in the
Its a weird feeling starting a series of books fully expecting the first one to be mediocre.
I wanted to be blown away but found myself agreeing with the general consensus.
The novel lacks focus, one moment its a murder mystery, the next its pure space adventure.
I cant criticise David Brin too much for the Uplift idea, these are the backbone and best parts of the book, intriguing and thought-provoking enough for me to read the rest of the trilogy.
2 Stars for the pacing, flow and writing style.
4 st
Every alien race helps other to learn and come to competent level of civilization e.g. uplifting them. Humans are only race who do not have known protectors. Are we only race in known universe who managed to get civilized by themselves or are our protectors out there?
Awesome multi-species science fiction, with ancient galaxy-spanning empires and scrappy Earthlings trying to hold their own. One of the few series with ultra-high technology that still has a hard sci-fi feel.
Mediocrity strikes again. Let's check the facts: Story - More of a mystery plot; Characters - Aliens are bad and tricky, male protagonist is the centre of the story, female protagonist can act independently but at one point must turn to male protagonist for comfort, all other characters, probably purchased off ebay; Science - Sufficient and although not really technical or too descriptive, we'll call it 'sound'.

I can appreciate the effort and the fact that Brin is first a scientist, then a write
Luke Devenish
I'm sort of glad this is over. Not that it wasn't fun. It was. But maybe it could have been just a bit more fun. I know I risk being stoned as a Probationer for even saying it, but at times 'Sundiver' was, well, not quite as dramatic as I would have wished from a sci-fi outing with spaceships and suns on the cover. (I ALWAYS judge my sci-fi by the cover.) This was by no means the case with the climax, however, which was tremendously exciting, but it was the case here and there along the way. Stu ...more
I stumbled across this quote from David Brin, which I found very interesting: "I hate the whole ubermensch, superman temptation that pervades science fiction. I believe no protagonist should be so competent, so awe-inspiring, that a committee of 20 really hard-working, intelligent people couldn't do the same thing." It's interesting because I can't think of a more clear violation of that principle than David Brin's first book.

And I don't want to spend too much time bashing the guy. I hope folks
Sean O'Brien
David Brin's Sundiver is the first of a six-book shared-world series in his Uplift universe. From what I gather, the first three books, Sundiver, Startide Rising, and The Uplift War form a very loose trilogy--loose in the sense that all three books are supposed to be stand-alone entities yet all share the same universe.

Sundiver is, at its core, a mystery novel with science-fiction elements, set in a very engaging and deep universe. The central mystery involves a human and extraterrestrial exped
Ben Babcock
First read October 17, 2008. (No review)

Second reading review, April 23, 2010.

There are as many origin theories as there are people to think about the origins of humanity. Like most reviews, I can't help but praise David Brin's Uplift concept. On one hand, the von Daniken-like idea of having a "patron" species that shepherded humanity toward sentience is comforting and resonates with our need to have concrete origins and a sense of belonging in a larger community. On the other hand, the Darwinia
It's been well-nigh many years since I've cracked open some honest-to-goodness, unapologetic, extraterrestrial-filled science fiction. I thought I had outgrown space operas, frankly. Sure, my reading lists still feature plenty of futuristic and fantastic tales, but these are nearly all set on Earth and deal with various end-of-the-world dystopias. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good apocalypse. Still, when a friend clued me in to the premise of David Brin's Uplift series after watching Prome ...more
Aug 04, 2007 Josh rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of sci-fi
Shelves: sci-fi
I was immidiately hooked to David Brin's writing when I started Sundiver. He has a style akin to many sci-fi authors that I've come to love and he creates a vivid universe with an epic scope. The ideas of this universe are great. I love the hierarchy of Uplifted races, the social orders this creates and where humanity fits into this very busy and bustling galaxy. This book lays out some good groundwork for the rest of the series (which I have not yet read) but seems in itself incomplete.

The pre
This is the first book in the Uplift Universe. Its sets the stage of a universe where we are not alone. In this universe over the millenia "Patron" races are responsible for uplifting pre-sapient client species by genetic manipulation. Then the client species is indentured to the Patron for many years until they can become a Patron and the cycle continues. At the time of first contact with us, it is believed that we didn't have a Patron, but we had started uplifting our own clients (dolphins an ...more
David Brin was one of the authors who inspired me to get my Ph. D. in Physics. His first book, 'Sundiver' is a very smartly-paced and -wriiten sci-fi mystery, with aliens that really are ALIEN, a very believable hero, and science that isn't 'skience' (science made to work for the world of the book). Plus, it's the first of one of the best sci-fi series ever, 'The Uplift Saga', where Man is an upstart infant race in a Galactic Society that has lasted literally BILLIONS of years. 'Mature' races 'U ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Merredith rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mystery and sci fi lovers
Shelves: 4-or-5-stars, sci-fi
Sundiver is the first book in the Uplift Saga. Years ago, in highschool or college, i'd read one or two books from this series, near the end. Loved it. I always love Brin's work. It's taken me this long to begin at the beginning & read the whole thing. I was surprised to find out, this book is more of a whodunnit. Although they're on a ship that dives into the sun, looking at new life forms, it's also a closed room parlor murder story, so you've got the integration of a new and old form of s ...more
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David Brin is a scientist, speaker, and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Existence, his latest novel, offers an unusual scenario for first contact. His ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends
More about David Brin...

Other Books in the Series

The Uplift Saga (7 books)
  • Startide Rising (The Uplift Saga, #2)
  • The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, #3)
  • Tomorrow Happens
  • Brightness Reef (Uplift Storm Trilogy, #1)
  • Infinity's Shore (Uplift Storm Trilogy, #2)
  • Heaven's Reach (Uplift Storm Trilogy, #3)

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“The measure of (mental) health is flexibility (not comparison to some ‘norm’), the freedom to learn from experience … to be influenced by reasonable arguments … and the appeal to the emotions … and especially the freedom to cease when sated. The essence of illness is the freezing of behavior into unalterable and insatiable patterns. Lawrence Kubie” 2 likes
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